Have you ever had a role model in your life, someone you looked up to? Im sure we’ve all had
someone who we looked at for guidance in our life, whether its a family member or a friend. For
me it was my older cousin Robert. He was only older than me by 3 years, we did everything
together growing up. We both didn’t have fathers, they left us at a young age. My grandparents
and my mother we’re the only ones who raised my sister Dominique, Robert and I . Roberts
mother left him when he was two, she became addicted to Meth, she decided not to change her
life for the better and ran off with her drug addicted boyfriend.
My family and I didn’t live in the best neighborhood, we lived in Compton, CA. My
grandparents and my mother immigrated from Mexico, to give us all a better life. Well it didn’t
quite turn out that way for all of us. We were always surrounded by gang members and just poor
quality of life. Dominique,Robert and I always walked to school. My grandparents worked late
so they wouldn’t get home until 830 am, the same for my mother she worked two jobs
sometimes three. They were always busy trying to make ends meat and put food on the table.
They never had time to drop us off and pick us up from school. My sister was the youngest she
was in first grade I was in third and Robert was in fifth grade. Robert always did so well in
school, he would always get A’s and would help my sister and I with our homework. My
grandparents always believed Robert would become something great after high school. They
would always tell him to keep working hard, that if he kept getting good grades he could one day
get a scholarship for college.
As the three of us were walking home from school one day I remember always seeing
writings on the walls, with letters crossed out with X’s. My sister and I always wondered what it
meant but Robert would always tell us that we shouldn’t ask those questions. I remember
thinking why was he so scared to ask about some writings on the walls, it didn’t seem like a big
deal to me but it seemed like Robert knew more and he didn’t want to share with my sister and I.
Summer came around my mother managed to buy all three of us some shoes on sale. My sister
and I were so happy that we put our brand new converse and couldn’t wait to go out with our
new shoes. Robert didn’t seem as happy, he was grateful for his new shoes, he thanked my
mother and hugged her and said “gracias tia” but he didn’t put them on. I asked him “do you not
like your new shoes?” He told me he loved them he wish he could wear them but he couldn’t
because they were red shoes. I looked at him with confusion. He then said the same guys that
write on the walls will get mad if I were these and will try to hurt me. I didn’t really understand
why they would want to hurt him for wearing red shoes. Even though Robert wasn’t affiliated
with the gangs he knew what they loved and knew what they hated.
The new school year had started, Robert was now in middle school. I could see my
cousin slowly starting to become a little different. I remember being home with him one
weekend I heard a knock at the door, Robert went to answer it, it was one of his friends, his name
was Tony. I didn’t like this friend of Robert, he didn’t seem like a good influence. I was in my
room and I came out and took a peek to see what they were talking about. I see Tony pull out a
gun, Robert quickly panicked. “put that away!” “relax” Tony said calmly. “We need one of these
to stay safe.” Robert said ” why would we need a gun to stay safe?” Tony explained to Robert
that now he could shoot back when they shoot at him. Robert was confused “why would they
shoot at me ?” Tony then said “because your family your from the hood.” From there on out its
like my cousin chose the wrong path of life. He went from such a young, sweet and very smart
kid to becoming trapped into the life style we saw around us everyday. Its almost as if he really
didn’t have a choice.
I witnessed my family being so devastated because of the path Robert started choosing.
The boy I once looked up too had became something I never thought he would become. As I got
older seeing my family hurting I knew I didn’t want to go down the same path as my cousin. I
wanted to make my family happy I wanted to be better. It hurts to see my cousin making the
wrongs choices but seeing this growing up made me never want to be part of that life style and to
get out of such a horrible neighborhood and do something more meaningful to life


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